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China warns on EU solar probe

China warns on EU solar probe
A Chinese man talks on his phone next to a solar panel field operating in the Taiyangshan Development Zone in Wuzhong, a frontier city in the northwestern province Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region on September 22, 2011. The 215 square mile zone has the advantages of both strong wind and solar power, resulting in 300 megawatts of wind power and 100 megawatts of photovoltaic power. Taiyangshan is the biggest clean energy base in China. UPI/Stephen Shaver | License Photo

BEIJING, March 26 (UPI) -- China has warned the European Union against imposing tariffs on Chinese solar products.

"If the EU insists on imposing duty orders on Chinese exports and severely hurts the interests of Chinese manufacturers, the Chinese government will not stand by. We have no choice but take any measure to protect the lawful rights of Chinese businesses," Chong Quan, deputy international trade representative with the Ministry of Commerce, said in a China Daily report.

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Last September, the European Commission opened an anti-dumping investigation into imports of Chinese solar panels in response to complaints by solar panel manufacturing trade group ProSun. That was followed by the launching of a second investigation in November into whether the Chinese government was unfairly subsidizing panel makers.

China countered by filing a complaint with the World Trade Organization in November saying that European member states illegally subsidized their PV manufacturers.

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Then last month the European Union announced the launching of a probe into Chinese exports of solar glass.

Furthermore, on March 5 the commission had ordered member states to register imports of Chinese solar panels and their main components in anticipation of possible anti-dumping and countervailing duties.

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The commission is scheduled to make a preliminary decision on Chinese anti-dumping in early June. If anti-dumping tariffs are imposed, they can be collected 90 days retroactively, thus from March 2013.

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China's exports of solar products fell 35 percent year-on-year in 2012, with exports of solar panels and modules down by more than 40 percent, says the China Daily report.

"Once again, we call on the EU to seriously consider China's suggestions as well as the appeal from enterprises from the EU's upstream and downstream solar industry to cautiously use trade remedy measures. We hope the dispute can be resolved through negotiations," Chong said.

Chong said 400,000 Chinese workers would be affected by the China-EU solar trade dispute and warned that "an improper handling of the case will definitely impact China-EU trade ties severely."

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The United States launched anti-dumping and countervailing investigations into China-made solar cells and modules in 2011, imposing anti-dumping tariffs of up to 249.96 percent and countervailing duties of up to 15.97 percent in a final ruling of the International Trade Commission last November.

Wang Bohua, secretary-general of China Photovoltaic Industry Alliance told the newspaper that more than half of Chinese small and medium-sized solar manufacturers have suspended production because of the U.S. and EU investigations.

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Last week, China's largest PV company, Suntech Power, declared bankruptcy.

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